Hello? hell-ooo? we’re waiting over here. Hollywood — that big tease — got us all atwitter by announcing the juicy projects listed below. But so far it’s been all talk and no lights, camera, action. So what the heck’s going on? We snooped behind the scenes to find out what ever happened to…
Project Freddy vs. Jason, a big-screen face-off between America’s favorite slashing psychos Status Horror geeks have been dying to see this superpower showdown since it was teased at the end of 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell (for those who missed that classic, the film ends with a shot of Freddy’s finger blades grabbing Jason’s hockey mask). Soon thereafter, New Line, which owns both characters, said the demonic duel was a go. But the project has since run into script problems (contrary to popular belief, these films do need screenplays). Brian Witten, New Line’s senior VP of production, says it’s been a nightmare trying to mesh the killers’ personalities into one story; for example, while Freddy’s M.O. includes torturing his victims with bad puns, Jason is more of the silent stalker type. Witten says writer Mark Verheiden (The Mask) is taking his whacks at the script, but the film ”probably won’t be [released] until the end of 2000, at least.” Which will be none too soon for some. Says Kane Hodder, who played Jason in the most recent Friday the 13th film: ”I’ve been waiting many years to kick Freddy’s scrawny little ass.” Prognosis Looked dead — but with these guys you never know.
Project The next book from John Berendt, author of 1994’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Status Midnight has become one of the biggest nonfiction phenomenons in history. The book, an account of a murder in Savannah, was on the best-seller list for 200-plus weeks, selling more than 2 million copies. All of which had the entire publishing industry just a bit curious about what Berendt would do for a follow-up. But the author has played it cool, promoting Midnight and leisurely searching for new material. Then last month the New York Post reported he had finally settled on a project: a true-crime story focusing on Sante and Kenneth Kimes, the mother-son team suspected of killing a wealthy Manhattanite in 1998. Problem is, the Post report isn’t true, says Christine Stanley of Vintage, Midnight‘s paperback publisher: Although Berendt did have ”an investigative meeting” with the duo’s reps, he’s ”going no further” on the Kimes story. And, adds Stanley, as far as they know, Berendt still hasn’t decided on a subject. Prognosis It’s way past midnight, and still no light in sight.
Project ABC’s Matthew Perry-created sitcom The Shrink Status The network’s having commitment issues. Last spring ABC ordered a script for the show, created by Perry and writing partner Andrew Hill Newman; it’s about a psychiatrist who’s more neurotic than his patients. After Perry and Newman turned in their first draft for the pilot, ABC asked for more character development. ”We’ve done a rewrite, the network is reading it [now] and deciding its fate,” says Newman. ABC says it’s too early to talk about the show, but Newman hopes that if all goes well, The Shrink could pop up on the lineup next fall. And though Newman describes the titular character as ”an insecure, good-looking 30-year-old like Matthew,” Perry won’t star. (Apparently, he’s got some other acting job.) Prognosis We’d call it 50-50. And as an analyst might ask, is the glass half full, or half empty?
Project The Fugees’ next album, a follow-up to 1996’s The Score Status Fans have been in a frenzy ever since Wyclef Jean hinted earlier this year that another Fugees album was on its way. Unfortunately, says the group’s spokesman, Miguel Baguer, “he was premature. They’re all doing their separate projects.” Among them: a starring role for Pras in the upcoming film Ghetto Superstar and a solo album from Jean in the spring. As for Lauryn Hill, Baguer says “she’s always writing music.” But he won’t say if that means she’s begun a follow-up to her Grammy-winning solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Of course, Hill already has a pretty full to-do list: R&B crooner D’Angelo’s new album is supposed to feature a duet with her, but it’s been held up: “We’re still waiting for the Lauryn track,” says a publicist for Virgin, the album’s label. “They definitely want it on there.” All of which makes a Fugees album unlikely any time soon. Prognosis Killing us softly with their procrastination.
Project The Women, the remake of George Cukor’s 1939 classic, starring Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan Status When Roberts and Ryan signed up for New Line’s high-profile vehicle in ’94, Women looked to be one of the showstoppers of the decade. Oscar winner James L. Brooks (As Good as It Gets) agreed to direct, and Murphy Brown creator Diane English signed on to update the script, a daunting task considering the number of power players she’d have to satisfy. Notes Richard Saperstein, New Line’s senior exec VP of production, “There are a lot of chefs in this brew.” After English completed a third draft, Brooks bolted for other commitments. Meanwhile, English got bogged down with TV projects, including CBS’ Ink and Fox’s Living in Captivity. But English says she’s finally close to finishing a fifth draft. “This last version is moving more away from the original,” she says. “The emphasis is on the friendship between the two women rather than their relationship with men.” For its part, the studio is cautiously optimistic and is in negotiations to bring on director Oliver Parker (An Ideal Husband). As for Roberts and Ryan, they’re still officially attached to the film — though the longer the wait, the more likely other obligations will tie them up. As it is, Ryan’s slated to shoot Proof of Life early next year and Roberts has been working on Erin Brockovich. Prognosis This one’s so far in the future, it might as well be called Robo Women.